This is getting to be even more of a circus

Five of the six deputy clerks in the Rowan County clerk’s office decided that issuing marriage licenses to all who are legally entitled to them is perhaps not such a bad idea since David Bunning, the federal judge overseeing the case, told them that their only other option is to join Kim Davis is federal custody for contempt. Interestingly, and I am not sure why this was not more widely known before today, the sixth deputy who is still holding out happens to be her own son Nathan Davis. While a touching sign if filial loyalty, this also smacks of nepotism.

The lawyers for the couples have proposed releasing Davis if she agrees to not interfere with her deputies issuing marriage licenses and according to a story in USA Today, they were to start issuing licenses tomorrow but a later report says that Davis has refused to authorize them to do so and so she will remain in custody.

Kim Davis’ lawyers called into question whether any licenses issued in her absence would be legal.

But Bunning said couples would have to decide whether to take that risk on their own. He indicated that he would lift the contempt charge against the defiant county clerk if deputies began issuing marriage licenses but said he was reluctant to release her too quickly because of the possibility that she would stop the process and again try to go through the courts in a sort of ping-pong match.

The judge warned all other clerks in the state, including the other two county clerks Kay Schwartz of Whitley County and Casey Davis of Casey County where licenses were also not being issued, that they too were bound by his order so they had better decide soon whether martyrdom is worth it. Casey Davis is supposedly riding his bicycle across the state to garner support for his cause and someone may have to flag him down and give him the news.

In Alabama too a probate judge is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has appealed to notorious state chief justice Roy Moore to support him by issuing a landmark ruling defying the US Supreme Court. Moore is quite capable of doing just that, setting up another legal showdown which he will lose, the way he lost when he tried to have a Ten Commandments monument in the Supreme Court building that resulted in him being removed from office.

Meanwhile, we have a ruling by a local judge in Tennessee who goes even further in refusing to grant a divorce to a heterosexual couple because he says that the decision by the US Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage made it unclear what a marriage is and therefore what constitutes a divorce. Or something like that. He seems to be easily confused.

And of course this provides a perfect opportunity for grandstanding politicians like Ted Cruz.

“Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny,” Mr. Cruz said in a statement. “Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America.”

This is getting even more ridiculous. These people are really grasping at straws now.

Let’s see if licenses are issued tomorrow morning.


  1. Matt G says

    Davis’ mother also worked in this office. Now, is this the son she conceived during her first marriage, who was born during her second marriage, and fathered by the man of her third marriage?

  2. dobby says

    And Kim’ s mother was the clerk before Kim was elected. Part of that time Kim was a deputy clerk. That should be enough for an investigation.

  3. thebookofdave says

    I had previously assumed that Rowan County Clerk was a public office of state, but it’s increasingly apparent that it’s treated as a hereditary possession of the Davis clan. Maybe Kim is holding out for compensation under eminent domain, or believes she is backed by the authority of the crown unless the king intervenes to strip her of her title and holdings.

  4. atheistblog says

    Jail shouldn’t be the only punishment for the contempt of the court. As a progressive, as we are advocating for justice reform, this lady should have been striped of her job, and escorted out of the premise and put a restraining order to the premise, jail, jail, jail, should it be the answer to all ? she acted on her hate, shouldn’t we be the antithesis to the same hate ?
    Kids in school has skirmish, answer jail, why this nation so obsesses with jails ?

  5. tecolata says

    Actually, no, Christian women have been arrested for living by their faith. The Quaker women who hid escaped slaves. The civil rights protesters. The Maryknoll nuns. The Catholic protesters who destroyed draft board files. Their faith led them to try to improve lives for other people. This woman’s hateful so called faith is a bridge to the right wing talk show circuit, a book deal, and no more honest labor in an office. She’ll be a millionaire soon.

  6. Mano Singham says


    She cannot be easily be stripped of her job because she is an elected official. She would have to be impeached by the legislature.

    But the main point is that when you defy a direct court order the only options for the judge are fines or jail and he explained why he felt that fines won’t influence her.

  7. Chiroptera says

    atheistblog, #4:

    A federal judge doesn’t have the authority to strip a state official from her position. In the case of county clerks in Kentucky, no one does; the county clerk in Kentucky is an elected position. From what other people have been saying about Kentucky state law, the only way to remove her from her position would be for the Kentucky state legislature to impeach her. That would be a drawn out process.

    So we have a case where a judge issued an order. Davis refused to comply with that order. In the US, the judiciary does not have executive or legislative functions. The only thing the court can do under US law to get Davis to comply is to either fine her or put her in jail until she agrees to comply or both.

    In fact, the court can’t even charge her with a crime and try her; that is left to the discretion of the executive branch of the government, in particular, the state prosecutor. Jailing and/or fines are the only for “contempt of court” is the only thing that the court has the authority to do here.

  8. says

    I thought that the judge’s response was positively solomonic. Since she sheltered herself behind her elected status, he cut to the chase by doing what would allow the marriages to go forward anyway.

    What do you mean she’ll go on the christian talk circuit when she gets out? Presumably she’s going to stay there, forever. Because otherwise she’d have to knuckle in and betray her hate-god, and if she was going to do that she would have already done it, right? I’m not a fan of imprisoning people, but she’s practically volunteered.

  9. Chiroptera says

    And remember, Davis is not being punished. She is choosing to go to jail of her own free choice. And she can leave jail any time she chooses: all she needs to do is to either have her office issue marriage licenses, including to same sex couples, or to resign her position.

  10. Chiroptera says

    NYT: Clerk Rejects Proposal to Let Deputies Issue Marriage Licenses

    Quote: “Civil contempt is not supposed to be punitive, it’s supposed to coerce the person to obey the judge’s order,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Once she promises to obey, or once the judge determines that more jail time will not encourage her to obey, they’ll let her out. But she could be in there for a year, it’s conceivable. Judges really don’t like it when people disobey their order.”

  11. Saad says

    Ted Cruz: “Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny”

    Judicial lawlessness… I can’t even… what?

    Does Ted Cruz spend even a millisecond thinking about what he’s saying?

  12. StevoR says

    @10. Lesbian Catnip : Huh? Muslims are free to live their lives and follow their religion in the USA, unless they break the law aren’t they? I don’t get what point you’re trying to make there, sorry.

  13. soren says


    I think the implication was that a Muslim county clerk that refused to allow women on an election ballot, or refused to let his office give out liqueur licenses citing his faith as a reason, would not be offered free legal help, and make Ted Cruz cry persecution.

    (I had to look up what a county clerk does, and I guess it varies)

    For that matter, a clerk interfering with starbucks because she is LDS and opposed to hot drinks would not be seen as a hero either.

  14. hexidecima says

    soren is quite right. If someone said that the “curse of ham” was true and part of their religion, and they couldn’t serve anyone of darker skin than their own, would not be seen as a martyr, only as an bigoted ass. This is all that Kim Davis is.

  15. Chiroptera says

    And I’m getting tired of this issue being framed incorrectly (I’m talking about myself here, not anyone else commenting on this blog). I’ve been reading and hearing people saying that Davis’ religious liberties are not being infringed; while technically correct, I feel that statement is misleading in that it is not really the question here at all.

    Davis is an elected government official. So what we really have here is that the government (specifically Rowan County) is failing in its duties and violating the rights of its citizens. In the US, the federal government has the authority to intervene to prevent state and local governments from violating the rights of its citizens.

    What we have here, and how I believe the issue should be framed, is that we have the government (Rowan County) failing in its mandated and necessary duties (issuing marriage licenses) and violating the rights of its citizens (specifically aimed at same sex couples). And the federal courts are correctly putting a stop to that.

    Davis does not have the right to prevent the government from carrying out its duties, and Davis does not have the right to use the government to violate the rights of its citizens. No one does; religion has no proper role in the discussion. Not only does Davis not have the right to use the government in this manner, but she is also not being compelled to remain in the position.

    Some commentators and reporters (not on this blog) are forgetting that Davis can resign at any time, just like countless government officials in the past have resigned in order that they don’t take part in something they find morally reprehensible.

    This is not in any way a religious freedom issue; it is solely an issue of whether the government can avoid its mandated responsibilities to avoid protecting the rights of its citizens.

  16. says

    If Kim Davis lived according to her faith, she wouldn’t be on her fourth marriage. According to the Bible, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, but he did have something to say about divorce and remarriage.

    I’d love to see a Catholic court clerk deny marriage certificates to divorced people. It would be really interesting to see how these “religious freedom” arguments go from there.

  17. StevoR says

    @ ^ Tabby Lavalamp : If they weren’t long dead you could ask a certain Henry VIII and his six wives -- many of who he had decapitated ..

    @17. soren & #18. hexidecima : Hmm .. Thanks. I guess I kinda see the logic to that now.

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